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On This Day (24 June 1870): Would-be Sunderland signing James Logan is born

Jimmy Logan was only ever passing through, but the future Sunderland man was born on this day 153 years ago!

Sunderland’s 1891-92 league winning squad, but by this point Logan was long gone...Photo from Sunderland AFC: The Absolute Record

Jimmy Logan’s run at Sunderland was short lived, but the Scotland forward enjoyed a fascinating career elsewhere and his story started on this day in 1870 when he was born in Troon, Ayrshire.

The brother of Bradford City legend Peter Logan, Jimmy started out with Ayr FC near his home in the west of Scotland. He made his international debut whilst still only 20 and it is during the win over Wales where he was thought to have come to the attention of Sunderland – although he didn’t play for his country again, he had scored their opening goal in the match and was hot property. Keen to secure his signature ahead of other suitors, the club agreed to start paying him shortly after the fixture even though his professional contract was not completed until later in the year.

Moving to Wearside in August 1891, secretary/manager Tom Watson handed Logan his debut in the second game of the season away at Preston North End. The Lads suffered a 3-1 defeat but there were suggestions in the press back in Scotland on the following Monday that they were ‘well pleased’ with their new signing, and when he featured in an impressive victory at West Bromwich Albion things seemed to be shaping up well.

It proved to be Logan’s last appearance for the club however, the rumour being that his refusal to turn out for Sunderland A had not done down too well. A fortnight prior to the Midlands trip he had been named in the side due to visit Willington Athletic but was then not involved in what proved to be a 4-3 defeat in front of over 2,000, and a similar situation was claimed to have then happened in November. Reports of being discharged due to ‘disobedience’ were refuted though in the Scottish Referee, a ‘Weekly Record and Review of Outdoor Recreation’, with their version being that it was Logan’s lack of pace that held him back.

Another factor may have been Watson’s decision to use Logan on the wing for the first team instead of his natural position. When he did play centrally in pre-season friendlies he appears to have done well, but it was not enough to dislodge the great Johnny Campbell. This was despite five goals in an 8-1 success against Newcastle West End at St. James’ Park plus another one the day before against a Canadian Touring XI, when Logan beat the keeper to the ball to equalise and then headed an effort against the post in a 3-2 win. Logan also scored in two further friendlies with Middlesbrough.

A cartoon from Sunderland AFC The Absolute Record: The Players of today’s subject

Campbell justified his status as top dog – a fellow Scot, he finished the season as top scorer in the country as Sunderland went on to win a maiden Football League title. By that stage Logan was back at Ayr, a move the Referee purported was reached by mutual consent, but in making those two outings earlier in the campaign he had at least played some part. His spell in the north east couldn’t have been considered a complete disaster either, as shortly before Christmas Middlesbrough Ironopolis were reported to have been keen on bringing him back south.

When Logan did return it was in the colours of Aston Villa, and after a heavy 6-0 defeat in which Campbell scored twice in 1893 he was back later in the year for a much closer 1-1 draw. Once again, the club he would leave soon after then went on to win the title but the following season saw Logan taste real glory as he scored a sensational hat-trick in the 1894 English (FA) Cup final to help Notts County beat Wolverhampton Wanderers. Then, after another stint back over the border, this time at Dundee, he had six months with Newcastle United for whom he lined up in a 5-3 friendly defeat against the Lads on Wearside.

Once he was done on Tyneside Logan joined Loughborough Athletic, then of Division Two. He didn’t get to stay with any team for long and his extremely sad death would come just a couple of months after his arrival – with their kit failing to turn up the side elected to wear civvies for a fixture against Newton Heath that took place in torrential rain and without anything dry to change into at full time, Logan caught a chill; although he played again in the meantime it eventually developed into pneumonia.

It was a tragic way to lose a life, and at 25 Logan would have otherwise been expected to have continued a fruitful career – one which had already seen plenty packed into it and had included an intriguing SAFC footnote.

James ‘Jimmy’ Logan

Born: Troon, 24 June 1870

SAFC debut:

Preston North End 3 (Drummond, Gordon , Towie)

Sunderland 1 (Miller)

Football League Division One, Deepdale 12 September 1891

Final SAFC appearance:

West Bromwich Albion 2 (McLeod, Bassett)

Sunderland 5 (Millar, Scott 2, Campbell 2)

Football League Division One, Stoney Lane 17 October 1891

Total appearances for SAFC: 2


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